Daniel J. Levitin’s astounding debut bestseller, This Is Your Brain on Music, enthralled and delighted readers as it transformed our understanding of how music gets in our heads and stays there. Now in his second New York Times bestseller, his genius for combining science and art reveals how music shaped humanity across cultures and throughout history.
Dr. Levitin identifies six fundamental song functions or types-friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love-then shows how each in its own way has enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. He shows, in effect, how these “six songs” work in our brains to preserve the emotional history of our lives and species.
Dr. Levitin combines cutting-edge scientific research from his music cognition lab at McGill University and work in an array of related fields; his own sometimes hilarious experiences in the music business; and illuminating interviews with musicians such as Sting and David Byrne, as well as conductors, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The World in Six Songs is, ultimately, a revolution in our understanding of how human nature evolved-right up to the iPod.
Read Daniel Levitin’s posts on the Penguin Blog.
“An exemplary mix of scientist and artist, student and teacher, performer and listener.”
-Library Journal, starred review
“A fantastic ride.”
“Leading researchers in music cognition are already singing its praises.”
Music and poetry. The two uniquely human components of the music brain.
Chapter 2: Friendship or “War (What Is It Good For)?”
Social bonding, synchronous coordinated movement, the evolution of emotional bonding, protest music for group cohesion.
Chapter 3: Joy or “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut”
The first song. Neurochemical effects of music and music therapy.
Chapter 4: Comfort or “Before There Was Prozac, There Was You”
Why we listen to sad music when we’re sad. Lullabyes and the blues. (And a short story about depressed restaurant workers pushed to the edge by a happy song.)
Chapter 5: Knowledge or “I Need to Know”
Music as an information-bearing medium. Learning, memory, and oral histories.
Chapter 6: Religion or “People Get Ready”
The role of music and ritual in creating order, reducing ambiguity, and commemorating important times and events.
Chapter 7: Love or “Bring ‘Em All In”
The sense of hearing and the prefrontal cortex. Tools, musical instruments, and shaping the environment. The evolution of social structure.